First Day of School

Our preschool years are over.

Earlier this morning I watched my daughter get on the school bus for the first time (she starts a new school today), and in about an hour I’ll walk my son to his first day of Kindergarten.

We’ve fantasized about this day for years—the extra time that my wife will have, how much cleaner the house will be without children in it all day long, not having to pay for preschool, and so on.

And yet, here I sit, an unusual quiet to the morning, trembling.

I’m a much better starter than a finisher. I always loved the first days of school, when the year ahead was rich with possibilities, the opportunity to find new friends and unwrap new mysteries. By the end of the school year, I was disinterested and anxious, ready for summer to begin with its own possibilities stretching into the heat-miraged distance. I love Autumn and Spring. Beginnings, transitions.

Our preschool years are over.

When our children were born, we made grand promises to ourselves about the healthiness of the foods they would eat, the limits of screen time, the quality of our discipline, and the educational nature of our games and toys. We were naïve. Hopeful and bright and amazed at the vast possibility of it all, yes; but also, so naïve.

Way back then, we had beginner’s minds. And now here we are at the end of something, jaded, tired, and usually a little dehydrated. Our kids are as likely to have learned something from the television or iPad than from us. And don’t get me started about eating habits. It’s just so difficult. All. The. Time.

But if I turn my head just so, I can see the edges of the beginning we’ve approached and my attention turns away from all the botched decisions and lazy choices. The distance of the horizon ahead quickens my steps. Land ho—opportunity!

Our school years are just beginning!